During the forum, N.C. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata joined State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, Assistant Commerce Secretary Dr. Patricia Mitchell and Tony Almeida, senior advisor to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Jobs and the Economy, for a roundtable discussion on key issues related to the forum topic.
"This was a very important session with rail and business leaders as we work toward greater partnerships and collaborative efforts," said Secretary Tata. "Input received during this forum will help us we move forward with initiatives across the state that will ultimately improve not only passenger and freight rail, but support our overall strategic direction for North Carolina."
The forum also gave about 200 rail stakeholders from across the state, including manufacturers, commodity producers, representatives from economic development agencies and those from the freight and passenger rail industry, the opportunity to provide input to aid in development of the NCDOT's Comprehensive Statewide Rail Plan. In addition, participants were educated on the process for submitting and scoring projects according to the new Strategic Mobility Formula that was established by House Bill 817,"Strategic Transportation Investments," as well as NCDOT's efforts to develop a vision for all modes of transportation for the next 25 years.
The Comprehensive Statewide Rail Plan provides the basis for economic growth through investment in freight corridors, prioritizes projects and programs for funding based on data and economic competitiveness, enables rail projects to compete with other modes for funding priority at all levels and identifies creative opportunities to fund rail freight and passenger projects. An approved rail plan is required by the Federal Railroad Administration for projects to compete for federal funds.